While most financial advisors believe they are already acting as fiduciaries to their existing clients, they do not always use that to lure new business, according to a new survey by ByAllAccounts Inc.
The national survey was based on responses collected in March from more than 250 financial advisors. Of those respondents, 49% were registered investment advisors, 17% work with an independent broker-dealer and 13% serve as an advisor with a broker-dealer or wirehouse. Survey participants also included institutional asset managers, family offices, registered investment advisor firm employees and others.
The survey results come after the Securities and Exchange Commission submitted a study in January recommending a uniform fiduciary standard for all professionals. Currently, advisors are held to a fiduciary standard while broker-dealers answer to a different suitability standard depending on the structure of their relationship with a client. The debate as to whether to adopt a uniform standard is set to continue in Congress.
In the survey, most respondents said they are following the fiduciary standard debate, with 28% extremely familiar with the issue, 31% very familiar and 33% somewhat familiar. The move toward a uniform fiduciary standard drew large support, with 76% of the respondents supporting the measure versus 24% who disagree.
ByAllAccounts’ survey found that about 88% of financial advisors believe they are acting already acting as fiduciaries versus almost 68% who mention a fiduciary standard or ethics in their marketing materials. But emphasizing that compliance more could help boost business, the company said.
“Explaining in clear terms what it means for your clients that you have fiduciary responsibility provides a marketing opportunity for savvy advisors to attract [high net worth] clients and increase [assets under management],” said ByAllAccounts Vice President of Marketing Cynthia Stephens.
Of the financial advisors already acting as fiduciaries, 42% view their clients’ total assets regularly and 53% try to provide retirement advice with the clients’ interest in mind. In their practices, 72% of advisors work with clients to develop a financial plan; 69% have clients fill out a questionnaire; 54% use an investment policy statement; and 45% use account aggregation as a way to tally and report assets.
Woburn, Mass.-based ByAllAccounts provides account aggregation technology and services for the wealth management industry.